The Sun is a powerful source of energy. The energy emitted from the sun can be converted into various renewable energies. Solar energy is an increasingly popular form of renewable energy that can be harnessed to mitigate the impacts of climate change. As a clean source of energy that produces zero emissions, solar energy offers a promising alternative to traditional fossil fuels that contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. Although the energy generated by solar panels does not emit any pollutants or greenhouse gasses, unlike traditional fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas, it is still not the ultimate solution to address the problem of climate change. One of the most negative effects of generating solar energy is that it requires a significant amount of land space and disrupts ecosystems and human settlements.
One of the most significant drawbacks of using solar energy is the use of large amounts of land. In general, solar panel farms require large areas of open and flat land. According to SEIA.org (Solar Energy Industry Association), to generate 1 MW of solar energy it requires 5 to 10 acres of land depending on various factors such as the latitude, climate of the location, and efficiency of the solar panel. Use of minimum 5 acres of land for generating 1 MW is comparatively larger than other renewable sources like wind or hydropower. The main reason behind large land requirements for solar energy is that solar panels need to be spread out over a large area in order to collect enough sunlight to generate a significant amount of energy. There should not be any disturbance to sunlight directly from trees or other objects. Also, solar panels have to stand on flat land with less than 1 percent slope. Thus, installation of solar panels requires many trees and vegetation to be removed which always has a negative impact on the environment. That is why most big solar farms are installed on deserts, which has many challenges like dust and sandstorms. As deserts are prone to dust and sandstorms, it deposits a layer of dust and sand on the solar panel which requires frequent cleaning for their efficient production of energy. Furthermore, most deserts have water scarcity, so it makes it more challenging to clean the solar panels by providing adequate water. Although solar energy as an alternative source of energy seems promising, the availability of open and flat lands required for its installation are seen as a challenge everywhere.
Another great challenge while generating solar energy is the negative impact on our ecosystem. As we have seen earlier, solar panels require large land because of which it will have a great negative impact on natural habitat and the local ecosystem, too. Installation of large-scale solar panels may cause a tremendous heat effect around the areas. This could cause an increase in temperature due to absorption of sunlight which could pose threat to both plant growth and wildlife habitat. For instance, in India, Orans are sacred groves, forested land in the desert of Rajasthan where local people have been grazing their cattle for centuries. Orans play a significant role in preserving the ecological balance of the region and are also home to a variety of flora and fauna, including many endangered species. However, the expansion of solar power plants in this region has posed a threat to Orans, along with the local communities and ecosystem. That is why thousands of people held rallies and strikes against the solar farms installation in Rajasthan. Additionally, many birds flying above the solar panel mistake it for moving water because of its shininess and are hurt or killed trying to dive in. Research has shown that solar farms in the United States kill about 138,600 birds each year. While the positive environmental impact of solar energy is significant, attempting to install solar farms without addressing those issues and other problems related to ecosystems would be considered a futile effort.
In conclusion, by using solar panels to generate electricity, we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other pollutants released into the atmosphere, thus reducing air pollution and improving air quality. The development and installation of solar farms must be approached with extensive research. It is important to consider all the potential impacts on ecosystems and local communities before the installation of solar farms. For this, it is important to have discussions with the local communities and other stakeholders like environmentalists to address the issues or concerns that may come in the near future. This helps all parties involved in renewable energy projects to build trust and ensure to develop sustainable energy that will be beneficial for everyone involved.